Aug 9, 2022 - News

Making the case for Music Midtown in Raleigh

A crowd at an outdoor concert
Photo: Scott Legato/WireImage

After Music Midtown canceled its Atlanta festival last week, Gov. Roy Cooper sent a lighthearted tweet, saying the event should make its way up to North Carolina instead.

  • Of course, that got us thinking about how Raleigh would be a much better pick for that than Charlotte, which has reportedly been described as "the Applebee’s of cities."

Context: Atlanta's September festival was shut down at least in part because the organizers couldn’t ban firearms in public parks due to Georgia’s gun laws, our Axios Atlanta colleagues reported.

The big picture: North Carolina is no stranger to losing events over legislative actions. After North Carolina’s legislature passed HB2 in 2016, also known as the infamous bathroom bill, the NBA All-Star Game pulled out of Charlotte and Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro.

Yes, but: How serious is Cooper?

  • "We wanted to showcase that there are alternatives, and a major event like that could be successful in North Carolina," Cooper spokesperson Ford Porter told Axios.
  • The governor's office has not been in contact with event organizers, however.

Either way, nothing beats a good hypothetical fight. So we pooled the power of Axios Local — which has newsletters in Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta — to make our pitch.

The case for Raleigh: Raleigh already hosts festivals like Dreamville, Hopscotch and the World of Bluegrass Festival. The city could be a natural fit.

  • We have Dorothea Dix Park, which has proven to be a great location for Dreamville.
  • Our downtown area can also handle multiple stages, as shown by the annual bluegrass festival.

The case for Charlotte: Our colleagues at Axios Charlotte write that the city — an Atlanta wannabe, perhaps — has at least half a dozen potential venues. Charlotte also has a light rail.

The Atlanta perspective: Axios Atlanta’s Thomas Wheatley offered that any city that wants to host it should have these qualities:

  • A Midtown (or a central location in the city): Density concentrates energy and energy creates a good time.
  • Homegrown acts: Atlanta native Future was a headliner before Music Midtown was canceled, and some up-and-coming acts made up the small print on the poster.
  • Public transit: Parking is always a nightmare — especially if you follow rule no. 1 — and the Uber lines would be hell. Transit works.
  • No sudden new gun laws: Just to be safe.
  • A different name: There’s only one Music Midtown so don't you dare take that from us.

Threat level: Raleigh isn't the perfect contender by the Axios Atlanta measures — let's save the "Midtown" debate for another day — but still ...

  • Raleigh is better than Charlotte. J.Cole said so, basically. So if you're reading this, Music Midtown, you know which city to pick.
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